Russian Sports Ministry welcomes WADA decision on meldonium cases

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Moscow, April 13 (IANS) The Russian Sports Ministry on Wednesday welcomed the decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to weaken its ban on meldonium drug.

The ministry said in a statement it supported WADA’s decision not to punish immediately all athletes tested positive for meldonium, but to begin studying the metabolic process of the drug, reports Xinhua.

“WADA has therefore demonstrated impartiality and an objective approach in the struggle against doping,” according to the ministry.

It added that WADA, after receiving interim results of its research, sent recommendations to all anti-doping organisations that allow them to take fair decisions based on the actual degree of athletes’ guilt.

The move is a positive sign, according to head of Russian Olympic Committee Aleksandr Zhukov, urging WADA to continue researches to find out “when precisely the substance is out of the human body and so on”.

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Russian media reported on Wednesday that WADA had issued a statement saying that it is permissible if a doping test of an athlete carried out before March 1, 2016 showed a meldonium concentration of below 1 microgram per milligram.

However, WADA said the investigation would continue against those athletes who admitted to having taken meldonium on or after January 1, 2016, or if a doping test showed higher concentration.

Meldonium, also known as mildronate and used to treat various heart diseases, has been banned by WADA from January 1 this year.

WADA considers the drug to be a metabolic modulator that increases athletes’ endurance and shortens post-exercise rehabilitation time, as well as enhances central nervous system activation.

So far, over 30 Russian athletes have tested positive for meldonium use including tennis star Maria Sharapova, while over 100 meldonium cases were recorded by WADA worldwide since the ban came into force.

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Russian sports officials have argued that there could be residual substances of meldonium taken before January 1 in some athletes’ test samples.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia is openly cooperating with international sports organisations on doping-related investigations.

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